Hundreds of workers are calling on their local MPs to demand political action to save 800 jobs and to safeguard the future of the strategically important Eggborough power station in North Yorkshire.
Eggborough has been working for over two years on a biomass conversion project which was due to begin 6 January 2014. The project would have been Britain’s largest infrastructure project in the first quarter of this year.
In a bizarre twist, the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) altered the selection criteria of funding for projects just two weeks before the final announcement of successful applications, with the result that Eggborough was excluded from the final list.
Trade unions Unite, Prospect and the GMB have joined forces to campaign to save the plant and are urging energy secretary Ed Davey to rethink his potentially disastrous decision.
If the government presses ahead with its decision 800 jobs will be lost and potentially thousands more in the supply chain in rail, ports, logistics and engineering services.
In the letter to local MPs, Eggborough workers said: “We at Eggborough are very proud to have ‘kept the lights on’ for the last 40 years and we wish to continue to help meet the needs of the UK and avert ‘capacity crunch’ and blackout fears. Please look into this matter and let us know if there is anything you can do to help.”
Unite national officer for energy Kevin Coyne said: “Writing off Eggborough power station would be an act of industrial vandalism, that puts Britain’s energy security at risk and will lead to thousands of lost jobs.
“The coalition’s energy policy is flawed. Coal fired power stations are closing and there are not enough replacements, yet Ed Davey seems content to lose four per cent of the UK’s energy capacity in one fell swoop. It is no wonder Britain is heading for an energy crisis. We sincerely hope the energy secretary rethinks this bizarre decision.”
Gary Smith, GMB national secretary for energy, said: "UK coal stations are becoming uneconomic because of the treasury cash cow - the carbon tax.
“Stations like Eggborough try to do the right thing moving to renewables and they get a kick in the teeth in return.
“The carbon tax is starting to really bite. This is at a time when German energy suppliers are building new coal plants that are exempt from carbon taxes as they don't have them.
“There are reports that 10 gigawatts of gas-power plants will be dismantled in Germany by 2015 to be replaced with seven gigawatts of coal-fired plants."
Prospect negotiator Mike Macdonald said: “Placing Eggborough out of the frame for the conversion to biomass production is not helping anyone – neither the dedicated staff employed at the site nor the public.
“The Eggborough conversion plan would place the plant in a position to play a key role in keeping the lights on while helping the country meet its carbon reduction targets.
“We urge the government to rethink the conversion proposals for the good of the plant, the staff employed there and in the supply chain, and for the good of the bill-paying public.”
Unite: Ciaran Naidoo 07768 931 315, GMB: Steve Pryle 07921 289 880, Prospect: Mike Macdonald 07770 304 486
Twitter: @unitetheunion, Facebook: unitetheunion1
Notes to editors
• Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.